A man has appeared in court after a fire broke out on a North Sea ferry causing damage estimated at £800,000.

Boden Hughes, 26, from Sunderland, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court charged with arson reckless to endangering life and affray.

The fire was started on the MS King Seaways at about 10.45pm on the Saturday after Christmas.

Hughes was remanded in custody on December 31 and is due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court on January 14. No pleas were entered, the BBC reported.

Five crew members who fought the fire on the DFDS Seaways ferry and a pregnant passenger were airlifted to Scarborough Hospital and later discharged.

The ferry, which was sailing for Amsterdam, had 946 passengers and 127 crew on board.

The vessel returned to port in North Shields after the fire broke out about 30 miles from the Yorkshire coast.

Another man, aged 28, who was also arrested on suspicion of affray, was released on bail.