Retired businessman John Eddom's nest egg was raided without him realising

A man who expected to retire with a pension pot worth �100,000 has been left with just �3,000 because his provider sold all his shares to cover unpaid fees � without his permission or knowledge.

Retired businessman John Eddom, 65, fears he will be left struggling in his old age after his nest egg was raided without him realising.

His pot was worth �50,000 when he stopped saving in 2000 and if his investments had been left alone he would be sitting on a fund worth more than �100,000 today.

But without his knowledge, his pension company sold all his shares in 2005, raising �17,000 to pay the annual fees for his plan. John only found out late last year.

Money Mail research found most pension plans contain hidden small print that lets investment firms raid your retirement nest egg for unpaid fees.

Major firms including Aviva, Prudential and Hargreaves Lansdown include clauses in savers' contracts that allow the company to sell your investments to claw back fees they are owed for managing funds.

These draconian terms are usually enacted only as a last resort.

But when they are used, the clauses can deprive savers of lucrative returns. And in the most extreme cases, the practice can empty entire savings pots.

Most at risk are workers who have stopped contributing to their pension or who have moved home without notifying their pension company.

In some cases, they may not realise their investments have been sold until it is too late.

John only discovered last year, just months away from retirement, that his pension firm Rowanmoor had sold his investments years earlier.

He had started saving into the plan in the early Eighties, when he was earning good money from his own haulage business, Eddom.

By 2000 his money was invested in shares such as Amazon, U.S. technology company Qualcomm and blue chips such as United Utilities.

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