Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson has announced that he will resign from his post in June 2012, ahead of his intended retirement in December of that year.

Mr Hutchinson announced his resignation during an appearance before the Stormont Assembly's Justice Committee this afternoon.

He told politicians he had come under "focused and personal attacks" over recent months, and said he would leave it to others to speculate about the motives for these attacks.

He said he has also agreed to suspend all investigations into historical inquiries.

Mr Hutchinson has been under pressure after the latest in a series of reports said he had lost the trust of senior colleagues and that the watchdog organisation was divided and dysfunctional.

The review by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland said ombudsman reports into some of the most controversial murders of the Troubles had seen criticism of the police removed.

Victims’ groups had already demanded the resignation of Mr Hutchinson, a former senior Canadian police officer.

However, Sinn Féin earlier said anything short of an immediate departure would jeopardise efforts to salvage the image of his office.

The latest damaging review of his stewardship, compiled by Chief Inspector Michael Maguire, said: "Our overall conclusion is that the flawed nature of the investigation process in historic cases, the divisions within senior management, and concerns around the handling of sensitive material have undermined confidence in the work of the OPONI (Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland) among some staff and key stakeholders.

"These issues have led to a lowering of the operational independence of the OPONI. It is an urgent requirement that these issues are addressed in response to this report."