A ferry company has refused to bring a group of UK students home from France after they went on a drunken rampage.

Around 200 students from Manchester wrecked a P&O Dover to Calais ferry and frightened fellow passengers.

A P&O spokeswoman said they were forced to take all non-university passengers to an area of the ship which is usually an exclusive lounge so they were "out of harm's way".

It is understood the students had been drinking before they got on board and then trashed the vessel during a mass brawl.

Passengers also reported seeing some students exposing themselves. The students were on their way to a ski trip in the Alps.

The spokeswoman said: "P&O ferries can confirm that around 200 students from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University caused disruption on an early morning sailing of its ship the Spirit of France on Sunday April 1.

"The company deplores the behaviour of this group of students, who were clearly drunk before they boarded the ship and whose actions on board were wholly unacceptable.

"P&O ferries has contacted both universities to advise that it will not be transporting these groups on their homeward voyage and to seek assurances that their behaviour is addressed."

She added: "Customers and staff on board the ship were appalled by the students' aggressive and lewd conduct, which should be stamped out by the authorities."

The company said it had reported the incident to the police. Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester were not available for comment.