London:  Real estate agents are now more trusted than ministers and politicians by the public to tell the truth.

"Lies" over Iraq could be largely to blame.

The Government has not recovered from a loss of trust during the Iraq war which may be doing lasting damage to the reputation of ministers, according to Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, which commissioned the survey.

He said Tony Blair and his ministers had failed to recover trust since the aftermath of the Iraq war and the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly.

"The key message is there is a worrying lack of trust," he said. "Two years ago, the Iraq war was a dominant factor. Two years on, Iraq is still an important issue. You would have thought there might have been some rise but that has not taken place."

The only group who carry less trust with the public than ministers are tabloid journalists but they have seen their rating rise during the past two years from 7 per cent to 9 per cent, while trust in ministers fell one point to 23 – one less than estate agents.

MPs overall have more trust than ministers with 29 per cent, up from 27 per cent. At the top of the trust league – unchanged since 2004 – are GPs (93 per cent), head teachers (84 per cent) and judges (81 per cent), and local police officers (77 per cent).

Sir Alistair said said Mr Blair’s successor and fellow ministers could raise the level of trust with the public by telling the truth, and listening more to the public.