Time for a change as MoD staff run up £40,000 speaking clock bill

Civil servants spent £18,804 on calling time service in 2012 - and £6,000 this year, despite bosses attempting to impose ban

It has been revealed that staff at the Ministry of Defence have spent thousands of pounds on calling the speaking clock, despite the easy availability of free websites - and an official ban.

Since 2011 the department has spent more than £40,000 on calling the service, which was first introduced in Britain in 1936 and now costs 30p a call.

Last year it was reported that the MoD had brought in a ban on ringing 123 and staff had been informed of websites, such as this one, they could use to check the time instead.

But even with the ban, the final bill for 2012 was £18,804 and more than £6,000 has already been spent this year.

Added to the £15,162 the department spent in 2011, MoD staff have been so keen to find out what time it is that they have made more than 130,000 calls during the last two-and-a-half years.

The MoD said: "A ban was introduced to our newest telephone network, but due to a technical error with an environmental monitoring system there has been some inadvertent spending on the speaking clock which has now been stopped.

"Overall spend on this has decreased from more than £15,000 in 2011 to just £6,000 this year since the ban was introduced."

Some of the famous voices who have been heard as the speaking clock include Gary Barlow, Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole, who have all taken part for charity.