A convicted rapist from the Democratic Republic of Congo has won a court battle allowing him to marry and thus stay in the UK.
Alphonse Semo, 53, of Deptford, south-east London, was two hours from being put on a flight to Africa when a High Court judge ruled in his favour.
The Home Office wanted to deport him, after he was jailed for eight years in 2002 for raping a woman in the UK.
Mr Justice Collins allowed him to marry a Congolese woman with EU citizenship.
The ruling means Semo will be able to live in any of the countries of the European Union, as the spouse of German national Bunsana Kalonji.
Mr Justice Collins said: "It is difficult to have any sympathy for this claimant.
"He came to this country from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was granted asylum.
"He chose to misuse his time here by committing offences, the most serious of which was rape."
But the judge added that Semo's motivations for marriage were "immaterial", concluding: "With considerable reluctance, I have to say he must be allowed to marry. That means there will be a prohibition against removing him."
The home secretary must now consider after the marriage whether to make a fresh attempt to deport him.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said the public would be "concerned" that Semo was allowed to stay.
He said: "We have a policy of deporting foreign national prisoners who have served or been sentenced to 12 months or more so clearly we take the decision of the court very seriously indeed.
"We have to abide by the law, but I do think the public will share my concern over this decision."