A man accused of starting a fire on a North Sea ferry which sparked a major rescue operation has failed in an attempt to argue the court had no jurisdiction in his case.

Boden George Hughes, 26, is charged with arson and affray after a fire broke out on a DFDS service between North Shields in North Tyneside and Amsterdam on December 28.

His legal team argued that as the vessel is Danish and was more than 12 miles offshore at the time of the alleged offence, the court had no jurisdiction to prosecute him.

But today at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Robert Adams rejected the argument and told Hughes, from Sunderland, that he would stand trial.

"I come to the conclusion that this court does have jurisdiction to try this case," he said.

Hughes, who denies arson and affray, was joined in the dock by James Curry, 29, who denies a joint accusation of affray but pleaded guilty to common assault.

Six people were winched off the ferry in darkness by an RAF crew and the ferry had to return to North Shields after the fire broke out in one of the cabins.

A trial date was set for July 7 and the pair were remanded in custody.