Number trusting priests 'falls to lowest recorded level'

The proportion of people who say they trust priests has fallen to its lowest recorded level, a survey has suggested.

About two thirds of those asked (65%) said they trusted the senior clerics to tell the truth, compared with a high of around 85% in 1983.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI as part of a long-running poll on trust in professions, found that politicians remained the least trusted of any group, with just 17% of interviewees saying they felt they could believe them.

Government ministers also fared badly, with only about 19% of those asked feeling they could be trusted.

However, a second poll following the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations in Parliament suggested that people's opinions seemed largely unaffected by the allegations, with 20% of those asked saying that they trusted politicians and 22% for Government ministers.

Of the 998 adults (aged 15 and above) asked, nurses remained the most trusted profession, with 94% believing that they told the truth, followed by doctors (91%).

The survey also found that trust in police was at its highest recorded level, with around three quarters (74%) saying they felt they could be trusted - a rise of 13% compared with the first poll conducted in 1983.

A similar amount of people (76%) confirmed their trust in weather forecasters, who were included as a group in the survey for the first time.

By contrast, only a quarter (26%) of those interviewed said they trusted professional footballers, who were also newly featured.

This puts them on a similar level of public trust as estate agents and journalists (both 27%), despite an all-time high for the latter, compared with previous years.

Head of political polling at Ipsos MORI, Gideon Skinner, said the results showed there have been some "notable movers" in the time since the company began conducting the survey in the early 1980s.

He said: "Groups such as professors, scientists, the police, trade union officials and civil servants have become more trusted, but the clergy are the most notable losers.

"But not everything changes - doctors, nurses and teachers have consistently been near the top, and politicians and journalists down the bottom.

"Trust in journalists does show signs of improvement, but even the recent harassment scandals at Westminster seemed to make little difference to low ratings in politicians as a class - either because it has already hit a floor, or because the public felt it reflected other aspects of trust such as moral behaviour more than their ability to tell the truth."

Graduates tend to have higher levels of trust both in a range of "expert" groups (weather forecasters, judges, civil servants and scientists), but also in journalists and the ordinary person on the street, Mr Skinner added.