Blair laughs off Tutu boycott

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair jokes about being shunned by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Former British Primer Minister Tony Blair. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday laughed off Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's protest against his presence at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit.

On Tuesday, Tutu announced that he was pulling out of the meeting because of Blair's role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

He described Blair's support for the war as "morally indefensible".

Blair said he never claimed there were no mistakes made during the invasion of Iraq, but he was quick to add these were made in "good faith".

He said he made the right decision based on intelligence reports at the time.

Blair spent a lot of his speech explaining that the hardest part of leadership was taking responsibility for difficult and often unpopular decisions.

On the Tutu issue, the former prime minister said people should "agree to disagree on issues, without claiming to be morally superior".

Other speakers included chess master and political activist Garry Kasparov, and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Outside the Sandton Convention Centre in northern Johannesburg, a group of demonstrators gathered to call for a boycott of the summit and Discovery medical aid.

Demonstrations were led by Muslim group Al Jama-ah.

It described Discovery's inclusion of Blair as a "shame".

Al Jama-ah said the company's stance was "tantamount to aligning itself with a war criminal".

The group wants Blair to be tried for crimes against humanity.