THE faulty memory of one eyewitness to an event or incident can blight those of others, according to a study financed in Swindon.

The North Star-based Economic and Social Research Council backed the study by the University of Aber-deen.

It involved groups of people being asked to view a simulated crime and later describe it, unaware that a stooge had been placed in their midst to give a false version.

The result was that 44 per cent of the people involved in the study were misled into believing they had witnessed things they had not.

The percentage was even higher than the 31 per cent who were misled when asked to study a falsified written report in another part of the study.

Study leader Dr Amina Memon said: "It is human nature for people to discuss their shared experiences.

"Several high-profile cases, such as the Oklahoma bombing in 1995, have shown that even a single erroneous eyewitness can have a negative influence on the accuracy of another person's testimony if they come into contact and discuss the event.

"We call this phenomenon memory conformity.

"Our studies show that misinformation gained through talk can produce more errors than when it comes in, say, written form

"This finding has implications both for forensic and theoretical understanding of eyewitness memory."