A leading social worker and an expert on child abuse have been appointed to Scotland's public inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care.

Panel members Glenn Houston and Professor Michael Lamb will help chair Susan O'Brien QC with the work of the inquiry, which formally began at the start of the month.

Mr Houston is the chief executive of Northern Ireland's independent health and social care regulator, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, and has more than 30 years' experience working in the field.

Mr Lamb is a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge and headed a research unit at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Washington DC for 17 years.

Announcing the appointments, Education Secretary Angela Constance said: "With Mr Houston's strong knowledge and experience in health and social care and Professor Lamb's focus on investigating child maltreatment for over a quarter of a century, their expertise will be invaluable to the inquiry.

"The panel and the chair can now begin their work to set out how the inquiry will be conducted and, importantly, how survivors and others will be kept informed of proceedings.

"I want to reiterate my thanks to all survivors and their supporters who have met with me, my colleagues and those involved in establishing this inquiry.

"There is still a long way to go, but we have made significant progress since I announced there would be an inquiry 10 months ago and appointed the chair in May."

Ms Constance said consultations had also been completed on plans to lift the current three-year time bar for civil action in cases of historical child abuse since September 1964.

Ms O'Brien said: "Mr Houston is a qualified social worker with decades of practical experience which will be relevant to our work.

"Professor Lamb is an internationally recognised expert on child abuse.

"Both will be able to contribute the perspective of professionals who have had lengthy and successful careers outside Scotland."

The inquiry, which could take up to four years, will cover allegations of abuse of children in formal institutional care including faith-based organisations, children's homes and secure care as well as those in foster care, long-term hospital care and boarding schools.

It covers the period ''within living memory'' up to December 17 last year and will have the power to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence.

Ms O'Brien has appealed for those who believe they may have information to share to contact the inquiry.

A website - www.childabuseinquiry.scot - has been set up to keep the public updated on its progress.